Webster’s main core values in its mission statement are diversity, inclusion and global citizenship. Jessica Mckay said for inclusion to occur on campus, students need to get out of their comfort zone and meet diverse fellow students. Mckay is the department representative of the International Languages and Cultures (ILC) Department at Webster.
“Just because you’re in a classroom together doesn’t mean you’re necessarily talking to each other or spending time outside of class with each other,” Mckay said. “We wanted to build a bridge between those two populations.”
Mckay partnered with the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) to start a meeting for students called the Culture Chat. Mckay is a consultant for the event and it is held every other Thursday.
Mckay said getting international and domestic students to interact with each other is harder than it may seem. The event aims to open dialogue and create friendships between students of different cultures. Themes in the discussion have ranged from food, holidays to personal experiences.
Last Thursday’s theme was love and relationships. Students at the chat discussed topics such as true love and arranged marriages. Participants were given an option to strongly agree, agree, or disagree with the discussion.
Ashley Duhaime is a graduate assistant at the MCISA. She said the Culture Chat gives students an opportunity to talk about subjects that could be considered taboo.
“When it comes to subjects that might not be as easy to bring up, a lot of people want to talk about it,” Duhaime said. “They don’t know how to bring it up, maybe because it’s a cultural thing, like you don’t talk about relationships. It can give them a chance to discuss that.”
Mckay said she hopes for more student engagement in future discussions. She said the event has regular attendees but she hopes other students continue to get involved.
“Just allowing opportunity for more connections and for those connections to develop into friendships,” she said.
The event is sponsored by the Academic Resource Center, the English as a Second Language department, the ILC department, and the MCISA. The next Culture Chat will be held on March 22 in the Interdisciplinary Science Building Room 174 at 3:30 p.m.